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MSHA Announces Winter Alert Campaign

By Christine Torres

The Mine Safety and Health Administration focuses on winter safety changes.

As part of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) annual Winter Alert campaign, the agency is reminding mine operators and miners of the dangers that colder weather creates for surface and underground mining. The campaign's focus is to increase worker caution, education, and support of winter safety principles from now through March.

“The cold winter months bring an increased risk of underground coal mine explosions, as well as an increase in hazards associated with ice and snow that collect at surface facilities and preparation plants,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health David Zatezalo. “During the Winter Alert campaign, MSHA personnel will work to ensure miners and mine operators have information to maintain safe and healthful working conditions.”

For example, Methane can migrate more easily in colder weather when the barometric pressure changes. This phenomenon increases the risk of an explosion. Dry winter air underground can allow coal dust to become loose in the atmosphere of the mine. This also increases the danger of an explosion. As part of the program, MSHA personnel will conduct routine visits and will distribute materials on miner worker safety best practices.

According to MSHA, underground examinations should include:

  • Checking for methane
  • Assessing and understanding the mine’s ventilation plan
  • Maintaining ventilation controls
  • Continually using rock dust to help prevent an explosion

Surface operations and preparation plants should be mindful of accident causing hazards such as visibility, slippery surfaces, and freezing and thawing highwalls.

  • Check the stability of highwalls and benches
  • Assess vehicles for any leaks of exhaust; limit idle times of engines to reduce carbon monoxide hazard risks
  • Keep roadways clear of snow and ice, and apply sand to surfaces to help maintain traction

Warn of changing electrical hazards as voltages change and ventilation instructions to accommodate work in the winter season.

Alert Winter Workers

Understanding and properly implementing MSHA safety regulations, at all times, is key in continuing to reduce mining accidents and fatalities. Safety signs and labels will promote a safer working environment in above and underground mines and plants. Choosing label and sign materials that can handle temperature variations, are highly visible, be applied to various surface types, and customizable for unique situations, are ideal for the mining industry.

Use durable, highly-visible and informative signs to:

  • Direct to nearest emergency exit, eyewash station, or safety equipment
  • Remind workers to wear proper PPE and where its located
  • Notify of explosion hazards and other known hazards
  • Provide ventilation instructions
  • Identify vehicles, safe operation instructions, seat belt reminders, etc.

Floor marking tapes such as anti-slip or trip-resistance tape, may be added to slippery surfaces such as walkways or even handrails to help increase traction. Use floor tape at plant operations to help direct the flow of traffic, designate inventory locations, and improve mining facility efficiency.

Graphic Products has the visual communication solutions and resources to help with safety vigilance at any mine site. Increase safety in the mining industry during cold weather or any time of the year with industrial safety labeling products such as DuaLabel Kodiak multi-color sign printer, premade safety signs, and full line of safety solutions by Graphic Products.

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